South Korea’s representative body, the National Assembly, together with several members of the Congress held the very first official crypto debate in the country on 10 December 2018.
The debate involved seven of the local market’s largest crypto exchanges, namely Bithumb, Cobitcoin, Coinone, Coinplug, Gopax, Hanbitco and Upbit. Democratic Party member Kim Byung-wook and representatives from the Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Mirae Party which both hold several seats in the National Assembly also attended the debate. The Financial Services Commission (FSC), which is the country’s financial supervisor too had a representative participate in the debate.
In addition, a panel was set to be led by Lee Seok-wu, the president of Dunamu, which is a subordinate company of Kakao that operates Upbit. Participants of the following panel included the president of Gopax, FSC members, a former UBS executive and others. The panel was aimed to discuss multiple aspects regarding crypto such as customer protection, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) practices.
There were certain key points that were worth being discussed in the official debate, seeing that South Korean is becoming one of the world’s forefront in the crypto sector. For example, both the government and crypto exchange representatives agree that practical policies need to be implemented, followed with regulatory frameworks which enable the market to grow at a rapid rate. The panel mentioned earlier was one of the efforts made to discuss further about the matter.
The fact that the official debate held had so many significant figures participating tells how important crypto is to the country and can be further supported by the case where the country’s government have actively promoted the use of blockchain technology for the past year. Moreover, the government has also put in efforts to bring in young talents, working together with local companies as they have recognized blockchain as one of the four core pillars of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Hankyoreh, which is a mainstream media outlet that assisted in hosting the debate, reported that South Korea’s government wishes that digital asset trading platforms would take up the responsibility to provide liquidity to their investors and hope they are able to aid the long-term growth of blockchain in the country by giving transparency and efficiency in the trading of cryptocurrencies.
However, the people running cryptocurrency exchanges also ask for the government to revise its guidelines released at the beginning of the year that prevents individuals from trading with unconfirmed bank accounts. This is because despite the announcement made by the government and the FSC which allowed banks to work with digital assets exchanges and business related to blockchain by providing virtual bank accounts, small crypto exchanges are still currently facing difficulties when it comes to obtaining financial services from major commercial banks. Other than that, strict capital controls make it harder for local investors to expand their influence to overseas crypto markets as they are unable to make large transactions using their bank accounts.
Although South Korea’s government has taken several measures to restrict cryptocurrency markets, including the G20’s decision to have stricter regulation and implement taxes on the markets, they were implemented mostly due to the negative problems that arise from the market, such as hacking and ICOs that ended up as scams. As more discussion and debates are held regarding how crypto should be operated and controlled, South Korea would surely become a spearhead in making crypto a major part of the world’s economical structure.
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